Four Ways to Improve Your Canine ‘Greeting Intelligence’

dog at playground, dog and frog, dog playing

Hello everyone! Greetings are on my mind. This is my first post for Dog Star Daily. I’m so delighted Kelly asked me to join the Dog Star team, and I’m humbled to be in the company of so many stellar dog bloggers.

Some days are bad hair days; yesterday was graceless greeting day. Sadie and I were out and about running errands, and in the late afternoon she accompanied me to a meeting where dogs were welcomed. Twice Sadie, my shy four-year-old Standard Poodle, was taken aback by dogs behaving like, well, dogs. But it’s the clueless humans with whom I have the bone to pick. 

I wrote "How Do You Greet a Strange Dog?" last year. Those suggestions were intended for humans 'sans dog' meeting a strange dog. But, what about when humans have dogs in tow? Then what?


Pop Quiz:

#1. You and your partner are standing about 4’ inside the entrance of the local dog-friendly hardware store talking with a saleswoman. Each of you is holding a leash with a 60 pound Labradoodle attached to the other end, one is silky black and the other is a lovely champagne blonde. A woman with her Standard Poodle on-leash opens the entrance door. Both doodles erupt in a riot of barking and lunging. The woman with the poodle stops dead in her tracks while still holding the door open. Her dog hangs back. She says, “Would you please step back with your dogs so we have space to walk past you?”

a. You and your partner back your dogs up several feet allowing the woman with the poodle to enter the store.

b. You say, “Oh he’s really friendly. They’ll be fine if they can just meet,” and walk with your dog towards the woman and the poodle suspended in the doorway.

c. You and your partner stand in place with your barking dogs and continue talking with the saleswoman as if nothing is happening.


#2. You are carrying your corpulent Chihuahua mix when you enter the meeting room. You notice that two of the people have dogs, a Border Collie and a Standard Poodle. You see that the dogs are on-leash sitting next to their people at a distance from each other.

a. You sit down and hold your dog in your lap.

b. You put your dog on the floor and let him run around off-leash.

c. You attach a leash to your dog’s collar and find a seat away from the other dogs.


If you answered ‘b’ to both questions you know why yesterday fell a little short in the greeting department. In the first instance, I turned around with Sadie and walked away, fast. The man who approached us with his ‘friendly’ doodle probably thought I was the one being rude, but, hey, that’s the way it goes.

The little Chihuahua mix seemed to come out of nowhere, at least to me, not to Sadie. She saw him making a beeline toward her from under the table we were sitting next to. The meeting hadn’t started and I was helping Sadie settle in by keeping her focused on me. We were doing ‘hand touches’ and ‘nose touches’ for treats when I heard her give a low warning growl. She’s never growled at a person before and my heart sank for a moment thinking this was a first because when I looked up all I saw was the woman. Then, from under the table the little dog, not heeding Sadie’s warning, tried to jump into my lap presumably to scarf up some goodies. Sadie ‘ruffed’ at him. He was not deterred. Quickly, his person scooped him up. That was good.

What could the hapless humans have done differently? Well, the couple with the two barking and lunging doodles could have taken it upon themselves to walk their dogs away from the entrance to the store. Entrances are dicey for dogs. Dogs often behave differently on-leash than they do off. The dog that is amiable off-leash can be aggressive on-leash. Two dogs that are pals can embolden each other and bully the lone new-comer dog. I could go on, but you get the idea.

And, what about the Chihuahua’s person? It’s a mystery to me why someone who clearly sees two other dogs on leash would let their dog loose to run into the room. Either ‘a’ or ‘c’ would have been better choices.

So where does this leave us? You’ve heard of ‘emotional intelligence’? Maybe if we humans followed four simple rules we could improve our doggie ‘greeting intelligence.’

1. Do not hang around entrances with your dog on or off leash. This includes dog parks!

2. If you have to be near an entrance with your dog, as in the hardware store situation, move away when you see another dog approaching. Make space.

3. As a general rule, keep leashed dogs separated, especially if they don’t know each other.

4. If other dogs are on-leash and your dog is off-leash and not able to stick next to you, put your dog on a leash, or pick her up if she’s little enough.

I’m sure we can think of more ways to improve our canine ‘greeting intelligence.’ What are your favorite pointers?

















Are you a dog trainer? Sign up for the Professional Dog Trainer Program – Free on Dunbar Academy